For some reason Ice Age has always clicked with me. Ever since the very first trailers before the first movie I was hooked, and indeed I was in cinemas at the first opportunity to see the first movie, and the second too. I loved them. When Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was released I wanted to see it in 3D, but for reasons I still don't know to this day I never saw it. I was sidetracked with work and other matters that kept me from getting time to see it. I was overjoyed then when Fox set me the Blu-Ray disc to review. First things first, what's this third movie all about...
Scrat is still trying to nab the ever-elusive nut (while, maybe, finding true love); Manny and Ellie await the birth of their mini-mammoth, Sid the sloth creates his own makeshift family by hijacking some dinosaur eggs; and Diego the saber-toothed tiger wonders if he's growing too "soft" hanging with his pals. On a mission to rescue the hapless Sid, the gang ventures into a mysterious underground world, where they have some close encounters with dinosaurs, battle flora fauna run amuck - and meet a relentless, one-eyed, dino-hunting weasel named Buck.
Having said that, there is still much to like here. The introduction of the love triangle between Scrat, the nut and Scratte is superb and there are some hilarious moments, not least of which is the opening sequence in the movie. I also quiet enjoyed the relationships between the characters. Despite what I mentioned above the characters really are great and on their own personal journeys. Perhaps the funniest new addition to this movie are the three baby dinosaurs. They don't talk, but damn they're funny, and so is Sid as their "mother". In fact one of the funniest sequences in the movie is when the dinosaurs hatch for the first time and then Sid plays with them - with disastrous results!
The saddest aspect of this release is simply that, unlike the theatrical release, there is no 3D version on this disc. Given that the Blu-Ray Association has only just this month finalised the Blu-Ray 3D format for release in early 2010 that's not such a bad thing as you can be fairly certain that Fox will re-release this movie down the track in proper 3D with the polarized glasses (at the moment 3D Blu-Rays use the rather inaccurate anaglyph 3D format with the red-green/blue glasses.)
If there is one disappointment, as we mentioned above there is no 3D version of this film included on this disc (we suspect Fox will re-release as Blu-Ray 3D in a year or two), but there are many moments in this film which have a very "3D" look unlike the first two Ice Age films which had a rather flat 2D look at times - if you know what I mean.
Fox really have impressed with the audio on this release, to some extent. The disc is encoded with a DTS-HD Mater Audio 7.1 (24-bit/48Khz) track which truly impresses on many levels with wonderful dynamic audio that will, at times, have your room shaking. We do have to say, however, that we were a little disappointed in the somewhat limited use of surround sound channels. We would have expected the filmmakers to go all-out in this regard, but it doesn't seem to be the case.
There are two English subtitle tracks on this Blu-Ray. One is for the feature movie and the second is for the audio commentary. Both appeared to be accurate to the dialogue, or sounds, on-screen.
Filmmaker Commentary: Director Carlos Saldanha as well as co-director Mike Thurmier, producers John Duncan and Lori Forte, character designer Peter DeSève, art director Michael Knapp and supervising animator Galen Chu. It seems all the participants are in a room together so they talk over each other at times, but all-in-all there is some interesting information in particular about the character development and storyline. It's a shame none of the voice actors participated and surprisingly given the number of participants there are some moments of silence.
Storybook Developer (HD): Given that the target age group seems to be children we shouldn't complain too much but basically you can capture still from scenes in the movie, add them to pages with captions and create a storybook. Not that exciting, and you can't forward them on via e-mail etc.
Evolution Expedition (18:24/HD): This featurette looks at animals seen in the movie, how we have records/fossils of them in museums, and what their current-day relatives would be in the wild with interviews with zoo staff.
Unearthing the Lost World (8:41/HD): A look at creating the new underground dinosaur world for Ice Age 3 including the jungle environments. There are plenty of storyboards and pre-viz sequences shown.
Unfinished Deleted Scenes (4:33): Two deleted scenes "The Mission" and "Headbutters" are presented here in rough animatic and storyboard form.
"Walk The Dinosaur" Music Video by Queen Latifah (1:32/HD): Name says it all really, it's actually quite catchy.
Scrat Shorts (19:53/HD): Three short films starring Scrat (which you may have seen on DVD) are presented here in HD. The shorts are "Surviving Sid", "Gone Nutty - Scrat's Missing Adventure" and "No Time For Nuts". The video quality on all is impressive, and if you haven't seen these there's plenty of entertainment here.
Fox Movie Channel Specials (15:39): This is basically three short clips used to promote the movie on the Fox Movie Channel Network. One is an interview with Ray Romano, another an interview with Queen Latifah while the third, most interesting one, shows Making a Scene.
Previews (0:53/HD): Someone needs to learn the difference between single and plural. There is only one trailer previewed here, that for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakel which is coming to cinemas Christmas Day. It's only the teaser trailer and the same which appears upon the discs boot up.
Live Lookup: Now this is something I really loved. Thanks to the ability to hook most Blu-Ray players, including PS3, up to the internet you to view the cast and crew as well as their other film credits with details pulled directly from IMDB. It even shows images of each character so you can pinpoint the exact person you want more information on.
Review By: Dave Warner